U.S. Marines Take Fight Against Sex Assault to Facebook

When vets posted comments about past experiences, the U.S. Marine Corps responded.

A video posted on the U.S. Marine Corps Facebook page is taking the message about sexual assaults in the military a step further.

Not only does the 35-second video encourage Marines to report a sexual assault, but it addresses the problem that many Marines say stops them from coming forward, retaliation.

That is what retired Air Force Master Sergeant Cathryn Miller says happened to her when she reported an assault early in her career.

“I was dismissed, it was my fault because I was in uniform working,” Miller told NBC 7 Wednesday.

In the video, several Marines share the message that any USMC who steps forward to report sexual assault should be treated with respect.

Miller said the price she paid after coming forward were missed opportunities.

“People would ignore me," she said. "I was given every kind of crap duty you could imagine.”

In May, a Pentagon report showed the U.S. military received a total of 6,131 reports of sexual assault involving service members as either victims or subjects in 2014.

The number of reports were up 11 percent over the year prior and 70 percent above those reported in 2012, according to NBC News.

Reports of sexual assault are met with doubt and the military members that report it say they are treated as the problem.

"I was told that I should stop trying to ruin someone's career," one person commented on the USMC page. "And Marines are incapable of being objective with these situations. Especially if those Marines are in any way associated with chain of command.”

For those who left comments about past experiences, page moderators responded. One such reply read in part, “The Marine Corps takes retaliation against victims very seriously.”

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One team. One fight. Marines who report a sexual assault are first and foremost Marines. Retaliation has no place in our Corps. Step in, step up, and report it.If you see or experience reprisal, ostracism, or maltreatment for reporting sexual assault – by either your superiors or your peers – report it to your chain of command or the Inspector General of the Marine Corps (http://www.hqmc.marines.mil/igmc/Resources/SubmitaComplaint.aspx). In addition, Marine Corps Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) and Military Equal Opportunity (MEO) experts are on hand now to respond to your questions and comments below.

Posted by U.S. Marine Corps on Tuesday, June 30, 2015

According to the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office or SAPRO there were 20 thousand sexual assaults in the military in 2014, that is one in 20 women.

Only one out of five reported assaults and charges were filed in only 38 percent of reported cases.

And here is a key number, when reports were made 62 percent said they were retaliated against.

The majority of those who were retaliated against faced reprisal from superiors and commanders.

Miller, now retired, said she has seen this for years. If a service member gets counseling she says that too can put the brakes on a military career.

“Then people question your leadership abilities, they question whether you can handle the pressure,” she said.

She hopes this social media effort will bring long overdue change she says, “Let’s change the culture, you’re not the bad guy he was, let’s go after the predator.”

But at the same time it is hard to believe for veterans like retired Master Sergeant Miller, “You know when they say this but do that, I hope that it really changes.”

NBC 7 reached out to U.S. Marine Corps Public Affairs in Washington D.C. to ask them why they chose to use social media.

We were told the USMC wanted to discuss the campaign but the colonel in charge of the program was not available.

A new director of the DOD Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office was added last month.

If you are in the military and want to report an assault click here.

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